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Bob McPhail 8:30 a.m., Aug. 17
The VoiceofOC.org, a nonprofit investigative news agency based in Orange County, tonight (Aug. 22) broke a story that has been hushed up — Republican politician Carl DeMaio's masturbation in the council men's room.
The story, by Rex Dalton, formerly of the Union-Tribune, says there never has been a public accounting, until this story appeared, of DeMaio in 2009 allegedly leaving "the San Diego City Council dais during meetings to masturbate in a men's room — events known by elected officials and suspected by members of the media," according to the story.
In the months before last November's mayoral election, Ben Hueso, city council president in 2009, told Dalton that he witnessed DeMaio engaging in the practice twice. Hueso, now a Democratic state senator, suspected the activity was more frequent.
When Hueso caught DeMaio with his pants down masturbating in a urinal, he said "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," six times, according to the story. City Councilwoman Marti Emerald confirmed Hueso's account, saying she saw Hueso in the hallway after one encounter.
Hueso was in a state of shock and described the incident to Emerald, according to the story.
In the election campaign, a letter was sent to DeMaio's staff about Filner's mistreatment of women. But DeMaio never used the information. "It could have been mutually assured destruction. If DeMaio raised it, Filner could have trumped it," said UCSD political scientist Steve Erie in the story.
DeMaio's spokesman termed the report "absurd and ludicrous."
Just received at Reader office, today, August 26
August 23, 2013
This office represents Carl DeMaio. On August 22, 2013, your publication printed a story that included statements attributed to Ben Hueso regarding a 2009 incident. Mr. DeMaio has asked me to inform you that what Mr. Hueso claims to have observed, as reported by you, did not occur. Your story went further than merely reporting Mr. Hueso's alleged statements. It adopted them as fact and also suggested there were multiple witnesses. There were not.
This will constitute a request for a correction of the untrue statements. This request is made pursuant to California Civil Code §48(a). Please also do not republish the statements of Mr. Hueso, as to which Mr. DeMaio has issued an unqualified denial.
In Mr. Dalton's underlying story, he quotes Mr. Hueso as saying former City Councilman Tony Young also witnessed such conduct. He also makes reference to "other who purportedly knew," without identifying them by name. Notwithstanding these very specific representations of "other" witnesses, Mr. Dalton's story does not provide any indication he made any effort to corroborate the claims with any of them, other than Mr. Young. Notably, Mr. Young has not corroborated Mr. Hueso's statements.
Other than the failure to obtain any corroborating evidence, the mere timing of this story should have raised serious issues to a responsible media organization.
Let me repeat – Mr. DeMaio categorically denies Mr. Hueso's allegations.
Robert P. Ottilie